At the Tin Rooster, we kick up our birth week heels

A welcoming site for the birthday proper dinner.

A welcoming site for the birthday proper dinner.

The Tin Rooster was a really big deal.

The name may conjur up a dusky little backwoods joint where somebody’s playing banjo on the sagging porch, but certainly not at this place my dear wife Karen chose to celebrate the cornerstone dinner of her Birth Week celebration 2014.

When we walked into the lobby of the new collection of nightclubs collectively called Exit 31 — that’s the stop on the New York State Thruway for the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., some 30 miles east of Syracuse, her son Daryl, and my daughter Elisabeth and her boyfriend George were waiting for us. Karen whispered to me that this is the sort of entrance she should be making on her birthday proper.

Big and beautiful and country all the way.

Big and beautiful and country all the way.

The five of us climbed the stairs to the main entrance and walked into a country-themed ballroom restaurant at 7:10 p.m. on a weeknight. I pictured it swinging as a country music bar three, four, five hours later and on weekends most certainly. It would certainly be quite easy to whisk the several tables off the wood dance floor.

Sure enough, twice during our stay, the sound-system tunes turned up a notch, the big screens scattered around the hall turned the music videos off, and a trio of young people — staff, most obviously — wearing denin fit to impress took to that dance floor and moved in a line dance of some note.

We sat and watched.

On one side, a trailer, parked.

On one side, a trailer, parked.

A fully appointed old-school bubble trailer sat parked on one side of the space. Karen and I went inside, where she stood under a NASCAR bar light and chuckled at the old TV with rabbit ears adorned with tin foil between them to better the reception.

There was plenty of staff, and the managers dressed in suits, men and women, looked very out of sorts compared to the hands-on folk in Nashville-like jeans and plaid.

Here we are, ready to read the offerings.

Here we are, ready to read the offerings.

One kind waitress offered to take a group picture as we were looking over the menu.

Karen and I stuck with what won her over as she inspected all of the restaurants under this huge resort and casino roof. And there are more than a dozen. We ordered the Tailgate Party for Two. That brought us ribs, both beef and pork; barbecued chicken; smoked kielbasa; pulled pork; beef brisket; and jalapeΓ±o cornbread. For our sides we chose mac and cheese, and cole slaw. Daryl chose a half-order of the turkey special. Elisabeth went with the chicken sandwich special with a jellied sauce; George chose a pulled pork sandwich.

Chicken sandwich made special.

Chicken sandwich made special.

Pork, pulled and tender.

Pork, pulled and tender.

This is a half-order. I know!

This is a half-order. I know!

Bucket 'o food, already dipped into by two.

Bucket ‘o food, already dipped into by two.

On the table sat a rack of three sauces: medium red, hot red and mustard yellow.

The mustard yellow was really good on the kielbasa. The medium red enhanced my brisket and pulled pork. I wished I had some the next day when I ate leftovers of both forms of ribs for my lunch.

George told me that the hot red was very. Elisabeth seconded with a whew! and stuck to the medium, like her dad.

Daryl and I rolled our eyes at the mound of turkey he got with a half-order.

Everybody enjoyed, thoroughly.

Because the kids had handed over gifts to Karen, the wait staff ended the night with a kind little singing parade that included a red velvet cupcake with a sparkler of fireworks as a candle for Karen. Because we’d said no to the dessert menu, they also brought a little box. Later, at home, my little bite told me the cream cheese icing was to die for.

Great photo lineup I.

Great photo lineup I.

Great photo lineup II.

Great photo lineup II.

On the way out, I had to line up my loved ones for two more photo ops. We don’t get all of the kids together like this often enough, with all the busy schedules of life.

The Tin Rooster was a smashing success. Cheesecake Factory, say what?

Have you been to a restaurant for the first time lately that has totally lived up to expectations, and if so, where and when and why? Medium red, hot red, or mustard yellow sauce in a barbecue place? Do you have a hard time getting all the kids/sibs/cousins together, and where do you like to go when it can happen, and why?

38 thoughts on “At the Tin Rooster, we kick up our birth week heels

  1. Looks like a fun place to eat and enjoy your family time, too! Glad you stretched Karen’s birthday into a week, but I did comment on an earlier one, hope she knew I was wishing her a good one! You made it a fantastic one! Smiles!

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  2. That place looks like a ton of fun! I’d have had to keep it on the mild side. The cake sounds yummy and the company looks fantabulous! You got some great photos. πŸ™‚ I’m glad everyone was able to make it for the birthday lady’s special celebration! πŸ˜€

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  3. Happy happy happy birth week again to your dear wife Karen! What a fabulous place to celebrate a birthday! It can be tough getting the entire fam together, which makes it all the more special when it happens. We are typically at an aunt or uncle’s house and just talk, drink and eat big meals while sharing memories. Some of my favorite times!

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  4. a restaurant review–fantastic! Looks like a winner. Glad you got the fam together–yay. Why are you having mustard sauce at a barbecue place? Is that a Cootersville thing? πŸ˜‰

    Some restaurants do blow you away and they are never the chains. Here’s to the independents of both the food and cinema worlds.

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    • I think every great restaurant has to put a mustard out there with the reds, especially when they have kielbasa on the menu in any way, shape or form, Liz. That’s what I used the yellow on, and it was perfect for that smoky treat.

      Yes, Turning Stone is full of their own restaurant creations, including the best damn buffet I’ve ever had because of number of choices and quality of food. Pricey, but if you go for lunch insted of dinner, within reason. Anyway, yay, indie.

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  5. What a cool place! I showed my daughter the pix and we put it on our list…looks like a very fun place, Mark. I also loved the little trailer! And…did I hear “blog party?” Where do I sign up? I’m always up for a get-together. πŸ™‚

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  6. Medium red, for sure πŸ™‚

    My extended family is very fond of chain restaurants, which are fine for those types of gatherings. If it is just me and Matt, we go for locally-owned Thai, Vietnamese or Indian food. When he comes to visit, he has already said he is going to want to try Jamaican food next πŸ™‚

    I am glad that y’all had such a wonderful night. What a beautiful way to celebrate Karen and what she means to all of y’all πŸ™‚

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  7. what a great post, mark. it’s filled with lots of colors and tastes and love. all of that shines through so clearly. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy the whole gang together for the biggest night of karen’s birthday celebration. i love those times and they are far too rare, so i enjoy every minute of them, and it’s clear you did too )

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  8. Wonderful looking meal Mark and even more wonderful company. The ambience also looks amazing. Love the little airstream trailer – Ha, memories. I’m a yellow sauce type of guy myslef – or sweet sauce if available. I’m an only child so there aren’t any family gatherings. We have a steak joint here in Canada called The Keg, that has really great food and good ambience. I enjoy having get togethers there. Ha! I have to tell you this short but funny story. Many years ago my wife’s son had won a hockey award and we took him (about 14)and his sister (about 12) and a friend each out for a celebratory dinner at the Keg in downtown Ottawa. It was cold and I tried to open the door of the restaurant and it was stuck. With the family behind me, I pulled a number of times, each time a bit harder – no luck. It was cold and I felt foolish not being able to open the door, so I put both hands on the handle, and leaned back puttiing all my weight behind it plus pushing with my legs. Now, I weigh about 1/4 of a ton and the door was no match. Unfortunately, it ripped off the hinges on the right side (which must have been loose,causing the problem in the first place) and came away from the frame in my hands. I casually set the door against the wall, as if this were normal, and we entered (it had an inner set of doors as well, so no cold could get in). The kids were awed – unfortunately the management wasn’t.when they showed up shortly after we were seated. To make a long story short, it worked out OK after some tense moments and we had a wondeful meal. Ha!

    Great Post Mark – and awesome pictures. if i’m ever in the area and need a good meal, I knwo where to go.

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    • So you singlehandeldly tore the door off The Keg. That is a winner, Paul (Bunyon). You are a man among us boys here. πŸ™‚ Come down anytime to share a meal with us in Syracuse. It’s not that far of a drive. When you’re feeling better, of course.

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